Tear Jerker / Gilmore Girls

Though It was billed as a light-hearted Dramedy, Gilmore Girls was not without its heartbreaking moments:
    open/close all folders 

    The Original 
  • Season 1's "Rory's Birthday Parties" highlights the very strained relationship between Emily and her daughter and granddaughter. While most of the episode is the typical difference in dynamic that causes conflict (with Lorelai accusing Emily of not knowing her or Rory at all), it veers into this trope when Emily (and Richard) attend Rory's birthday party at her home. It's awkward; Emily and Richard have never been to the house, have never met their friends, and this is not their kind of party. Emily leaves to go upstairs, where she finds a picture of Lorelai in a cast. Emily is somewhat shocked to realize that something that large had happened in her daughter's life and she knew nothing about it; Lorelai reassures her it was "no big deal." When she and Richard leave, she despondently tells him that Lorelai was right: "I don't know them at all."
  • The ending of the season five finale
  • "The Prodigal Daughter Returns" where Lorelai and Rory finally reconcile. Especially when you consider that Rory's spent the whole episode getting her life back together (talking to her dean, moving out of her grandparents' house, parking herself at the Stamford Gazette until she's given a job) and doesn't call her mom and ask to come home until she's completely got herself back on track doubles as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming
  • I have to go That is all.
  • In "Let Me Hear Your Balalaikas Ringing Out" when Lorelai breaks down about how she feels she fails as a mother because of Rory dropping out of Yale and moving in with her grandparents and their subsequent estrangement, while caring for a sick Paul Anka.
  • Mom, you've given me everything I need
  • The scene between Luke and Jess at the end of 'Teach Me Tonight'. Jess and Rory get into a car accident, leading to Rory breaking her arm and a massive fight between Lorelai and Luke. Luke finds Jess smoking on the bridge, where he sat with Rory during the basket festival, on the verge of tears and sits down beside him.
    Jess: "I...I made sure she was ok."
    Luke: "I know you did."
  • Rory's graduation speech
    Rory : Richard and Emily Gilmore are kind, decent unfailingly generous people. They are my twin pillars without whom I could not stand. But my ultimate inspiration comes from my best friend. The dazzling woman from whom I received my name and my life's blood; Lorelai Gilmore. My mother never gave me any idea that I couldn't do whatever I wanted to do or be whomever I wanted to be...As she guided me through these incredible 18 years, I don't think she ever realized that the person I most wanted to be was her. (tearfully) Thank you, Mom. You are my guide post for everything.
  • The season three premiere where Lorelai finally breaks down about Christopher leaving her and Rory to go back to his pregnant girlfriend Sherry, because He doesn't want to abandon another child. Lorelai's confessing to Luke about how much Chris's abandonment stings, because he's finally gotten himself together, but it's for another woman and child, is just gut-wrenching.
  • Lorelai apologizing to Emily for not telling her about her engagement to Max, explaining that she doesn't know how to tell her things because she's afraid that when something good happens to her, Emily will make her feel bad about it, and that when something bad happens, she's afraid Emily will make her feel worse.
  • In "Here Comes the Son" (S3:E21) Luke visits the Gilmore girls at their home and tells Lorelai that Jess has run away from Luke's (all without Rory's knowledge). At first Luke expresses relief that Jess is gone, but right before he is about to leave Lorelai's porch, his eyes widen as if on the verge of tears. He turns his back to Lorelai, quickly wipes his face and leans against the porch rail, before looking at her with a defeated look on his face. His sadness and total sense of failure are then summed up:
    Luke: I failed him.
  • Richard's speech after his retirement in Season 2. He's trying to find something to do with all his time and he spends the day with Lorelai. He makes several condescending comments to her in front of her employees and friends, and overrules her decision about Rory driving the car Dean made for her. Just as it seems Lorelai is going to win an argument with her father about his being too judgmental, this happens:
    Richard: "I am an annoyance to my wife. I am a burden to my daughter. Suddenly, I know what it feels like to be obsolete. I hope you never have to feel that."
  • Rory showing Emily the converted tool shed that Lorelai used to live in before they bought their house, and Emily realizing that her daughter would have rather lived in squalor than with her own parents.
    Emily (to Lorelai): You would have lived in the street, in the gutter, in a cardboard box, anywhere as long as you didn't have to be near us, isn't that true?!
  • In a first season episode, Richard has a mild heart attack, and Emily, on the verge of tears, berates him for it (although he actually survives).
    Richard: Emily, listen. If I die...
    Emily: No!
    Richard: Emily...
    Emily: Richard Gilmore, there may be many things happening in this hospital tonight, but your dying is not one of them.
    Richard: But—
    Emily: No! I did not sign on to your dying. And it is not going to happen. Not tonight, not for a very long time. In fact, I demand to go first. Do I make myself clear?
    Richard: Yes, Emily. You may go first.
    • Which really becomes Harsher in Hindsight with Edward Herman's death in 2014.
    • Lorelai finding out about Richard being hospitalized in the diner and the subsequent freak-out are heartbreaking, as is her conversation with Luke in the car about how she has no real happy special memories with her father, and finally her breakdown outside Richard's hospital room after he turns out to be fine.
  • Rory and Jess's final goodbye in Season 6. After they kiss, Rory decides to stay faithful to Logan, and leaves. Jess's expression is heartbreaking.
    Jess: I guess I'll call Matthew's poet, and have him explain love to me. Poets know all about it, right?
    Rory: They're supposed to. I'm so sorry I came here.
    Jess: Don't be. It's what it is...you...me.
    Rory: [Almost crying] Goodbye Jess. [She walks away]
    • Hell, both their expressions are heartbreaking. After everything they went through, its a tragic ending.
    • Even worse, remembering that Rory ran away after their first kiss as well.
  • When Lorelai graduates from community college, Richard and Emily are obviously deeply moved and very proud. Their sheer joy and emotion is very touching. This scene is also Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. However, Rory's missing this moment seriously clouds the happy picture.
  • Lane being told to move out of her house by her mom in the middle of season 4 after telling her that she wants to change the way she lives.
    Mrs. Kim: Children do not make the rules. You may... move out and live like that somewhere else.
  • Henry "breaking up" with Lane before their first date when he realizes that they can't have a normal relationship. They might have been able to have a chance together if Lane told her mother about Henry, but she realizes it's too late to do anything about it.
  • From the episode "Jews and Chinese Food", which takes place after Luke and Lorelai's breakup in season 5. During the elementary school production of Fiddler on the Roof, the song "Do You Love Me?" is performed while Luke and Lorelai stand next to each other without saying a single word. It's painfully clear that they want to speak to each other, but since they're fighting, they don't say anything.
  • In the season 7 episode, "Farewell My Pet":
    Lorelai: You're the man I want to want.
    Christopher: I know.
  • The season 2 finale, Lorelai and Christopher have gotten together at long last, and moments after Lorelai tells an ecstatic Emily and Christopher assures Rory her parents will finally be together:
    Christopher: Sherry's pregnant.
    • Also at the very end of that same episode when Rory, after just having kissed Jess for the first time and being determined to stay in Stars Hollow for the summer, runs to Lorelai:
    Rory: I think I'm going to Washington.
    Lorelai: Oh. Okay.
  • Paris's breakdown after she didn't get into Harvard, especially for viewers who went through the same thing (or are currently in the college app process and fear the same thing happening to them).
  • Logan leaving for London.
  • Rory finding out Logan has been seriously injured and subsequently hospitalised in another stunt.
  • Emily seeks out Mia at the inn. Emily was particularly upset about the fact that when Lorelai ran away, that Mia didn't send her home while Mia decided to take in Lorelai and give her a place to stay. Before she leaves, she asks Mia to not tell Lorelai about the encounter and send her photos of Young Lorelai with Baby Rory.
  • At the end of Say Something (5.14), after Luke and Lorelai have broken up, in a moment of weakness Lorelai leaves Luke a message begging him to come over. She then hangs up, embarrassed, and immediately leaves to retrieve the tape from Lukeís; when she gets home, she finds that Luke has broken into her home because he thought she was in trouble and needed him. Even though they arenít together anymore, he still cares deeply about her.
    A Year in the Life Revival 
  • Word of God has confirmed that the new miniseries will deal with the death of Richard Gilmore (and its impact on the rest of the family), since Edward Herrmann died in 2014.
  • From the official revival trailer:
    • Lorelai has some doubts about her relationship with Luke.
    • Emily has a lot of difficulty coping with Richard's death. Lorelai and Rory solemnly keep an eye on Emily at the funeral.
    Emily: I don't know how to do this. I was married for 50 years; half of me is gone.
  • Emily standing alone in front of Richard's coffin. Has the double whammy tearjerker of acting as a send off not just for Richard, but also Edward Herrmann.
    • And remember the scene from the original series where Richard has a heart attack, and Emily makes him promise to let her die first...
    • Pretty much all scenes associated with Richard in the revival.
  • Lorelai's phone conversation with Emily about her 13th birthday in the revival episode 'Fall'. On said birthday she had just been dumped and had run way to the mall, and Richard came and found her. Instead of yelling like she expected, be bought her a pretzel, took her to a double billing, and general just let her wallow.
  • Lorelai and Emily's big blowout fight over Lorelai's drunken rambling about how Richard never paid much attention to her. Their therapy sessions are also fraught with tension and bitterness to each other.
  • Rory and Logan in the bedroom scene in the B&B in New Hampshire in 'Fall'. It's clear they both know their relationship is ending, and Roryís tearful optimism, coupled with Loganís heart-broken face as they both pretend nothing is wrong will break you.
  • When Rory opens up the door to Richardís study in fall, and for a brief moment she sees him there, sitting at his desk.
    • Realising that when Rory turned down the offer of Loganís house to write her book, saying she already knew where she would write it, this is where she meant, in Richards study. Cue hours of waterworks.
  • The brief part with Jess looking sadly at Rory through the window before leaving. It makes you wonder if he's doomed to pine for her for many years still just like Luke did with Lorelai.
  • While it's definetely heartwarming too and only does Emily good, it can still be sad to see her finally selling her and Richard's house they've lived in throughout the entire original show.
  • The opening credits of Winter, where audio clips of significant scenes from the original series can be heard, such as Emily confronting Lorelai about leaving the house when she found out she was pregnant, Luke telling Lorelai that he was "all in" for their relationship, and Paris breaking down over national television that she didn't get into Harvard, among others.